Reefer Madness? Florida High Court Lets Voters Decide
In a 4-3 split Monday, the Florida Supreme Court flung open the door for a medical marijuana initiative on the November ballot.
Attorney General Pam Bondi asked the court to review whether the ballot language met the single-subject rule. Opponents argued the amendment language was too open ended and would allow doctors to liberally apply it.
Justices Barbara Pariente, R. Fred Lewis, Peggy Quince and James E.C. Perry sided with the sponsor, People United for Medical Marijuana backed by Orlando attorney John Morgan of Morgan & Morgan.
The court broke its regular opinion schedule to release the 84-page advisory opinion.
"We hold that the voters are given fair notice as to the chief purpose and scope of the proposed amendment, which is to allow a restricted use of marijuana for certain 'debilitating' medical conditions," the majority said.
Jon L. Mills of Boies, Schiller & Flexner in Miami argued for the amendment last month before the court.
"I'm glad to see the majority affirmed what we thought to be the case. We're glad the people have a right to decide," Mills said.
Chief Justice Ricky Polston and Justices Charles Canady and Jorge Labarga dissented, each with an opinion.
Polston said the summary and title "hide the ball and allow this initiative to fly under false colors regarding the severity of medical issues that qualify for marijuana use, a type of deception this court has previously disallowed and assailed against."
Mills said the title and summary describe how marijuana may be used by someone with a debilitating disease as determined by a Florida physician.